Society for Cultural Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
This paper explores the logics of emerging energy transition narratives amongst a group of “climate change professionals” in India as the world moves from fossil fuels to “alternative” energy systems. By working through three fieldwork contexts in which solar energy is substituted for other fuels (solar lamps substituted for kerosine lamps in villages, solar rooftop installations substituted for diesel back up generators in urban apartment buildings and solar parks substituted for coal plants at the scale of the national grid), the paper discusses how policymakers, social enterprise and think tank employees negotiate the paradox of integrating solar into existing economic and infrastructural systems while simultaneously having to enact it as an environmental object that is “alternative” to such systems. The paper demonstrates how this paradox of solar – as having to simultaneously be both the “same” and “different” – structures the temporal, epistemic as well as the ethical logics of the energy transition discourse.